Coronary Artery Disease Life Insurance – Approved, step by step

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Coronary artery disease life insurance (or CAD life insurance) questions arrive in our inbox every day. Questions like:

Can I get life insurance with coronary artery disease?

What’s the process we need to approve CAD life insurance cases?

Are coronary artery disease life insurance subjects treated unfairly or differently by underwriters?

How much does life insurance cost after coronary artery disease?

CAD affects over 15.8 million people in the United States and 8 million of those people have heart attacks.  Since coronary artery disease is the single leading cause of death, it is an issue that life insurance companies must deal with on a daily basis.

There are many factors that will determine if you’re eligible to get life insurance after CAD.

Maybe you arrived on this article because you are exploring your possibilities.  Or maybe you have explored your possibilities already, only to be denied.

The good news?  CAD is not a death sentence, especially with how well the medical field has expanded and improved in recent years.  Patients with CAD are living long and fruitful lives after diagnosis.

Questions Answered
Yes! It is possible to receive affordable life insurance, even if you have coronary artery disease.

Coronary Artery Disease – What is it?

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The above image from Wikipedia.org gives us a clear picture of CAD.  Look at the green area, that represents plaque in one of the coronary arteries restricting blood flow.

CAD is a very specific form of atherosclerosis that affects the left anterior descending, circumflex or right coronary artery.  These three arteries are very important to your overall health because they supply blood to the heart itself.

It’s believed that atherosclerosis is the body’s way to heal itself after inflammation or irritation of the arteries and veins.  A fatty streak forms underneath the inner lining of the artery wall, and as time goes on that fat is capped by smooth muscle cells.  This heals the irritation in the artery wall, however it also narrows the artery (called stenosis).

Less blood flow to the heart – or worse, plaque breaking free of the arterial wall and forming a clot – is a real concern to your doctor.  This artery disease without treatment can lead to severe heart problems or a heart attack.

Treatment of CAD

Treating CAD is something you will need to continue for the rest of your life, because there is no cure. Lifestyle changes are the first level of prevention and treatment.

If you smoke, quit.  Smoking raises your blood pressure and simultaneously increases inflammation in the arterial wall, a double-whammy for CAD.  Because of the direct correlation between smoking and CAD, smoking will raise your life insurance premiums by 300%!

Changing your diet while exercising can help reduce the chances of another episode.

The next level of treatment involves prescription medications.  Statins may be prescribed to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, blood thinners may reduce clots, and beta blockers may lower blood pressure levels.

The third level of CAD treatment involves surgery, like a less invasive PCI angioplasty or the more invasive coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).  Surgery will be recommended by your cardiologist if your blood vessels are almost or completely blocked by plaque.

There are life insurance plans available at all levels of treatment, whether the coronary artery disease is mild, moderate or severe.  To understand how much these plans will cost, read on.

Coronary Artery Disease and Life Insurance – Risk Factors

If you have CAD, underwriters will look at many risk factors in your life insurance application.  To determine what coverage you are eligible for, this is what they will ask:

How old are you currently?

Your age is a huge factor in the life insurance products that you can qualify for. The younger you are, the more likely you’re able to find coverage at lower rates (usually).

As we age, the risk for CAD increases.

Age at CAD Diagnosis

When you were diagnosed will also factor into the underwriting decision. If it happened years ago and you have been symptom free since then, you will likely receive lower rates.

However, young age can work against you in this instance.  If you were diagnosed with CAD at a young age, that is a negative factor on your application.  Significant artery calcification or heart problems at a young age usually point to severe heart problems at an older age.

How severe is your coronary artery disease?

The severity of the disease is also a crucial factor. How many blood vessels are affected, and which ones?  Obviously, the fewer arteries affected, the better.  Are the arteries still showing signs of blockage?

Are there any current symptoms?

You feel it in your chest, a tightness as if someone is standing on you. Sometimes CAD causes shortness of breath if you are exerting yourself, and this often leads to the diagnosis in the first place.

If you are still experiencing symptoms 6 months after surgery, this is a very serious sign of complications.  Most life insurance companies will suspend or postpone an application until the symptoms subside.

What is your treatment for CAD?

The type of treatment you undertake will be considered.  The more intensive and invasive the treatment, the higher the rates.

Medications

Life insurance and prescription medication tango like Jekyll and Hyde.  Certain medications – like blood thinners – can trigger higher rates from life insurance companies.  This is negative.

However, taking what your doctor prescribes shows that you are adhering to a treatment plan and this is very positive.

Bottom line?  Do what your doctor says and keep taking your medications.  First, do it for your health.  Second, failure to do so could cause your life insurance policy to be more expensive than it has to.

Smoking History

How long you’ve smoked, how much you’ve smoked, and if you quit will factor into the underwriting decision.  As we said above, smoking poses a double threat to CAD with artery inflammation and higher blood pressure.

If you quit smoking, that can go a long way to showing you’re dedicated to being healthy.

Questions Answered
Need a reason to quit smoking?  How about 100 to 300 reasons?

Smoking will cost you 100% – 300% more for your life insurance coverage with CAD.  

Even better news?  The indications of artery inflammation are usually back to normal 5 years after you quit smoking and your arteries can heal themselves of the damage.

Family History

Your family’s health history – especially their cardiovascular history – will factor into the underwriting decision. If your parents or siblings have developed cardiovascular disease before age 60, the insurance company may see that as a liability

This is dependent on the life insurance company though.  Certain life insurance companies are not as stringent on family history, so you need to work with our underwriting experts if your family history is a factor.

BEST RATE TIP!
If your parents or siblings were diagnosed with CAD before age 60, some life insurance companies will increase your rates based on that diagnosis.

However, other life insurance companies will only increase your rates if the CAD resulted in the death of a parent or sibling before age 60.

Active or Inactive Lifestyle?

Would you like to decrease your arterial function, increase inflammation and increase your blood pressure?  You get all three if you lead an inactive, sedentary lifestyle.

Cardiologist supervised physical activity can do wonders for your health, and it will help you qualify for lower life insurance rates.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Hypertension (HBP) or hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) results are scrutinized after coronary artery disease.  HBP ranges that are “acceptable” to a life insurance company increase as you age.  In this instance, it pays to be older when applying for life insurance.

If your cholesterol is too high, or your HDL (good cholesterol) is too low, you will receive higher rates for life insurance.  As you age, cholesterol ratings are not as severe.  More cholesterol is expected in a blood test as you get older.

Coronary Artery Disease Life Insurance – Approved!

What are the life insurance underwriting decisions for an applicant with coronary artery disease?

Preferred / Preferred Plus

Since this condition is the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s tough to get preferred rates with coronary artery disease.

Standard / Standard Plus

We have see approvals for life insurance after CAD at a standard health class all the time.  Usually applicants are older in age with fewer arteries affected, proper maintenance and no recurring symptoms.

Case Study
Cathy is 72.  She felt pains in her chest over a decade ago. At the time of the chest pain, her doctor ordered a exercise stress test and coronary angiography and found her proximal circumflex artery with significant plaque.  

Her blockage was almost 50% in this artery.  Her heart condition was treated with medication and changes to her diet.

She exercises daily, sees her cardiologist regularly, takes metoprolol and simvastatin.  She had a stress echocardiogram 8 months ago that had great results.

Cathy’s scenario is really a best case scenario for CAD patients.  She qualified better than standard due to some lifestyle credits for exercise, diet and a recent stress echo.

You can get lifestyle credits too, so do what your doctor’s been telling you to do already and save some money!

A+ rated company for Cathy D., 10 year term

Term Life Insurance $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
Monthly Rate $128.19 $257.91 $413.44

 

Moderate Substandard Ratings

Most applicants end up with substandard life insurance rates after coronary artery disease.  This is due to the complications of the disease (like heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmias) and the probability of atherosclerosis elsewhere in the body.

Maybe your CAD affects more than one artery, or more significant arteries (like the left anterior descending).  If you were surgically treated with a stent or bypass you can also expect substandard rates.

However, there is great news!  Life Insurance is still available and affordable to protect your family, even with substandard rates.

Case Study
Ralph is 59.  He started having chest pains a year ago and his cardiologist ordered an echocardiogram stress test and coronary angiography.

The results were: LVEF – 45% and 90% blockages of two arteries, including the left anterior descending (LAD).  Ralph had two stents placed nine months ago and has multiple cardiac prescriptions.

Multiple blocked arteries?  Check.  High percentage of blockage and lower than normal ejection fraction?  Check.  Surgery?  Check and double check.

Ralph was lucky he caught his disease before heart attack.  He qualified for many life insurance programs and his rate class was moderately substandard (about 125% higher than standard rates).  With lifestyle changes he will be eligible for credits in the future on his life insurance.  So we will work to re approve him soon.

However, he still found the protection he needed at a price he could afford even with substandard rates.

A+ rated company for Ralph C., 10 year term

Term Life Insurance $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
Monthly Rate $109.15 $208.14 $436.95

Mild Substandard Ratings

Case Study
Miles  K. is 55 and he had a heart attack 2 years ago.  Coronary angiography showed his right coronary artery was completely blocked.  His cardiologist intervened with a stent at that time.

He was prescribed blood thinners after the angioplasty, however his doctor no longer thinks they are necessary.  He does take a statin, beta blocker and a low dose asparin.  

His diet and exercise habits are superb and his height / weight result in a BMI of  < 24.  

Recent exercise stress test had great results with LVEF over 55%.  Recent blood work is normal with low overall triglycerides and high levels of HDL.

Miles qualified for mild substandard rates because of his excellent maintenance.  He’s doing exactly what his doctor ordered, and it showed on the test results and blood work.

With a longer history after the heart attack of great maintenance, he might even qualify for standard rates.  Medication, diet and exercise really helped.

A+ rated company for Miles K., 10 year term

Term Life Insurance $500,000 $1,000,000 $2,000,000
Monthly Rate $164.06 $301.80 $598.35

Listen up –

What is life going to look like for your family after you’re gone? Even after you die, your love lives on.

Your spouse and kids, they live on!  Your memory lives on!

Is it more difficult to find life insurance after coronary artery disease or a heart attack?  Sure.

However, do not assume you can’t find life insurance at a reasonable rate. We have extensive experience with CAD cases and we are willing to help.

The decision is too important and your time is now.

Reach out, get in touch, and put our underwriting experts to work for you today.

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